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Revisiting Mike Davis' case for letting Malibu burn - Los Angeles Times
"During fire season, I always think about Mike Davis, author of one of the most — pardon the pun — incendiary essays in the annals of SoCal letters: “The Case for Letting Malibu Burn.” I return to this chapter from his book “Ecology of Fear” any time that the Santa Ana winds howl and thousands flee raging infernos — a ritual that used to happen every couple of years but now seems to happen every couple of months.

“The Case for Letting Malibu Burn” is a powerhouse of history, science, Marxist analysis — and a certain amount of trolling. Its main point is that Southern Californians will never accept that fire is not only common here, but part of our ecology going back centuries. To spend millions saving homes in areas never meant for neighborhoods and power lines is not just folly, but a waste of public resources.

This time around, as California burned from the north to the south, I checked in via email with Davis, now professor emeritus at UC Riverside. He’s best known for his literary double whammy against Los Angeles exceptionalism: 1990’s “City of Quartz” and 1998’s “Ecology of Fear.” Those books made the Los Angeles of “Chinatown” seem as sinister as Mayberry. Davis’ tales of racism, poverty, corruption and other sins — backed by copious footnotes — inspired a generation of radical historians and writers, including yours truly. He also riled an army of detractors who so hated his apocalyptic warnings that they ridiculed everything from his scholarship to his marriages to the fact that he was born in Fontana.

But as the years go on, Davis’ bleak words read more like revelations than rants. Just as he argued, we build deeper into canyons and foothills, daring Mother Nature to give us her best shot — and then are shocked when she does.

The Woolsey fire has already scorched more than 96,000 acres in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, destroying 435 structures in Malibu and other cities. It’s yet another “fire of the century” for the beach city.

“Maybe 10 or 20 years ago, you stayed in your homes when there was a fire and you were able to protect them,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said during a news conference this weekend. “We’re entering a new normal. Things are not the way they were 10 years ago.”

In other words, we now live in Mike Davis’ world. He has ascended to the pantheon of Golden State visionary authors like Helen Hunt Jackson, Upton Sinclair and Carey McWilliams who held up a mirror to us that we have ignored at our own peril.

“The Case for Letting Malibu Burn” depicted Malibu and other wealthy cities built in the boonies as created not for “love of the great outdoors or frontier rusticity,” but rather as “thickets of privacy” against L.A.’s working classes and people of color.

We enable this white flight into the mountains, he argued, by not just allowing development where there shouldn’t be any, but also subsidizing those affected by the inevitable wildfire in the form of cheap fire insurance and squadrons of first responders deployed around the clock at the hint of an ember.

He went through a litany of Malibu blazes over the last century, concluding with the Old Topanga blaze of 1993 — which consumed about 18,000 acres but destroyed 323 structures. Throw in climate change, Davis noted in a version of his essay that appeared in the L.A. Weekly, and the catastrophe “marked a qualitative escalation in fire danger, if not the actual emergence of a new, post-suburban fire regime.”

And, almost exactly 25 years later, here we are again.

Davis’ work on Malibu’s flames has aged far better than the criticism of it. Chapman University urban studies fellow Joel Kotkin, for instance, said of “Ecology of Fear” back in the 1990s that it “basically mugs Los Angeles” and is “truly nauseating stuff.” Yet by 2007, Kotkin told the Economist, in an article about the fires that fall that wreaked havoc from San Diego to Santa Barbara, that “nature still has a lot of power” in the once-unspoiled areas where we build homes — which is what Davis contended all along.

Then there’s former Malibu real estate agent Brady Westwater, who refashioned himself as a downtown L.A. booster. You couldn’t write about “Ecology of Fear” for years without mentioning Westwater, who hounded reporters with screeds and stats about Davis’ real and alleged errors until the press finally began to cite him as a legitimate critic.

In his own 1998 essay (whose titled described Davis as a “purposefully misleading liar”), Westwater predicted that “fire damage will decrease over the years” in Malibu because of better infrastructure and better-built homes. Of the Old Topanga disaster, he plainly declared: “That kind of fire can never happen again.”

And yet here we are again.

Davis remains persona non grata in Malibu, from Neptune’s Net to Pepperdine University. Malibuites took “The Case…” as a direct attack on their beliefs and ways of life.

Davis takes no satisfaction in seeing his analysis come true all over again. But the author, who’s recovering from cancer, stands by what he wrote.

“I’m infamous for suggesting that the broader public should not have to pay a cent to protect or rebuild mansions on sites that will inevitably burn every 20 or 25 years,” he told me. “My opinion hasn’t changed.”"
mikedavis  2018  malibu  losangeles  california  fires  whiteflight  suburbs  nature  wildfires  socal  class  race  racism  development  1990s  1993  1998  bradywestwater  helenhuntjackson  uptonsinclair  careymcwilliams  joelkotkin  inequality 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Michael Wesch – Unboxing Stories on Vimeo
"2015 Future of StoryTelling Summit Speaker: Michael Wesch, Cultural Anthropologist

A pioneer in digital ethnography, Dr. Michael Wesch studies how our changing media is altering human interaction. As an anthropologist in Papua New Guinea, Wesch saw firsthand how oral storytelling worked for much of human civilization: It was a group activity that rewarded participation, transformed our perceptions, and created a changing flow of stories across generations. Reading and writing replaced oral storytelling with linear, fixed stories. Upon returning from Papua New Guinea, Wesch created the 2007 viral video hit Web 2.0...The Machine Is Us/ing Us, about the Internet's effects on our culture. At FoST, he’ll explore how our evolution from a literate culture to a digital one can return us to collaborative storytelling, resulting in a more engaged, participatory, and connected society."
michaelwesch  stories  storytelling  anthropology  2015  papuanewguinea  humans  civilization  perception  connection  participation  spontaneity  immersion  religion  involvement  census  oraltradition  oral  wikipedia  society  web2.0  media  particiption  conversation  television  tv  generations  neilpostman  classideas  web  online  socialmedia  alonetogether  suburbs  history  happenings  confusion  future  josephcampbell  life  living  meaning  meaningmaking  culture  culturlanthropology  srg 
april 2018 by robertogreco
I Want it All Now! Documentary on Marin County (1978) - YouTube
"From deep in NBC's archives, a funky '70s documentary which brought Marin County, California to national attention, from its fucked up deadbeat parents to its misguided fascination with mystical oriental ooga-booga horseshit. If you ever wondered why people associate peacock feathers and suicide with Marin, this is why. Strangely, Tupac Shakur does not make a cameo.

Each story in this film is an accurate depiction of everyone in Marin and does not deviate from any Marinite's experience, without exception."

[Via: ".@NBCNews did an extraordinary profile of Marin County 40 years ago:" https://twitter.com/nikosleverenz/status/950213237236117504

in response to: "In the 1960s, Marin County pioneered slow-growth environmentalism. Today the county's also home to some of the nation's highest housing costs, decades-old patterns of segregation and has the state's largest racial disparities http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-marin-county-affordable-housing-20170107-story.html "
https://twitter.com/dillonliam/status/950046576554029056 ]
marin  towatch  1978  bayarea  marincounty  1970s  1960s  history  narcissism  wealth  happiness  psychology  self  self-help  selfishness  race  racism  suburbs  sanfrancisco  capitalism  californianideology 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Mapping LA-tinx Suburbia – Boom California
"One of the most famous attempts to describe Los Angeles depicts it as an enclave of communities without a focused core; a collective search for a pulse that does not exist. One version of this characterization suggests, “Los Angeles: seventy-two suburbs in search of a city.” Another narrows the scope: “nineteen suburbs in search of a metropolis.” Assigned to a series of writers, most famously Dorothy Parker, but also Aldous Huxley and H.L. Mencken, the words reverberate an anxiety about Angelenos’ collective experiences of space.[1] Pointing to the uniqueness of Los Angeles’s geography and topography, it also reveals the challenge of trying to capture the essence of a multi-nodal place with words alone. This essay examines how digital mapping can help to foreground localized knowledges of Los Angeles by introducing a pilot multimedia project called the Barrio Suburbanism Map.

In recent years, the digital-turn has birthed a new version of spatial musings similar to those of Parker, often in the form of maps. Rather than plotting points on a grid, digital mapping often combines practices of cartography, photography, narration, active revision, and public-orientation. These contemporary multimedia renderings demonstrate the continued active and critical searching for what it means to live in metropolitan Los Angeles. From this search, several questions emerge. Who decides what a place is called: barrio, suburb, neighborhood, ghetto, colonized territory? Where are its edges? How does a space become more than a location, but instead a site imbued with meaning? And, to whom? These questions move us beyond the iconic scene of Los Angeles produced from the studios of the Hollywood Hills to the lived experiences of space radiating out from Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights to the Tierra Mia coffee shop in Huntington Park. This essay explores how digital mapping might inform our understanding of metropolitan Los Angeles, both in the academy and beyond. Specifically, by pairing photographs with student ethnographies, the Barrio Suburbanism Map complicates popular perceptions of the suburbs as sites of homogeneity in order to reveal the dynamic diversity of suburbanization in multiracial Los Angeles, with a focus on Latinx communities.

Since the writings of 1920s social commentators, a range of urban historians, planners, creative writers, artists, and preservationists have created a wealth of scholarship and resources concerning Los Angeles and its suburbs: as bustling sites of working class identity, as spaces of queer sociability, and as areas of relocation for urban Chicanxs.[2] Yet, suburbs are habitually understood through the lenses of homeownership, whiteness, middle-class status, and conservatism in popular discourse. These depictions of suburbs eclipse the equally important histories of “triangular race relations” and “relational racialization” exemplified in places like Los Angeles, where complex interactions between race, class, and gender have accompanied the social segmentation of the metropolitan region.[3] Rather than a fixed set of characteristics, suburbia is networked, ever shifting, historically contingent, and defined by much more than political boundaries.[4]

This essay explores how digital mapping can function as an active means for engaging ongoing process of place-making, one that can offer unique contributions to both student learning and public engagement.[5] Beginning with a brief account of digital mapping projects in Greater Los Angeles, this essay provides a series of mosaics from one such project designed by the authors, the Barrio Suburbanism Map. A collaborative research project created by UCLA undergraduates in the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, its aims are two-fold. First, it builds upon studies of the barrio and diverse suburbs to examine how these sites operate in multiracial and metropolitan contexts. Second, it foregrounds undergraduate research aimed at reaching a public audience through multimedia mapping. Piloted in an upper-division research seminar in the Winter of 2016, the project asks how Chicana/o and Latina/o populations have impacted the economic, social, and spatial contours of specific suburbs, with attention to how place-making and the built environment have changed over time."



"Through digital mapping, projects like the Barrio Suburbanism Map facilitate public-oriented research and student engagement in that process. By pairing photographs with student ethnographies, the map seeks to complicate popular perceptions of suburbia. It highlights the dynamic diversity of suburbanization in multiracial Los Angeles, with a focus on Latinx migration and settlement that aims to provoke critical discussion. In particular, it foregrounds how Latinx suburbanites impact the spatial and ideological contours of Greater Los Angeles. Rather than statistically driven mapping, these types of projects offer a more humanistic approach for interpreting space with the potential to train students in historical analysis. This is the first layer of an exponentially buildable platform. Future iterations, for instance, could introduce new layers to the present map that address labor history, housing prices, racial housing covenants, predatory lending, or fair housing activism, as well as artistic, literary, and architectural interventions in suburban spaces. As noted by the editors of Hypercities: Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities, “thick maps are never finished and meanings are never definite… and give rise to forms of counter-mapping, alternative maps, multiple voices, and on-going contestations.” In this way, digital mapping offers a promising opportunity to develop pedagogical and public initiatives that are responsive to the changing conditions of the world we live in."
maps  mapping  losangeles  genevievecarpio  andyrutkowski  2017  digital  digitalhumanities  placemaking  chicanostudies  latinx  suburbs  sanfernando  boyleheights  highlandpark  lincolnheights  victorvalle  rodolfotorres  greatereastside  laurabarraclough  history  economics  politics  demographics  orangecounty  sangabrielvalley  sanfernandovalley  wendycheng  inlandempire  rosemead  baldwinpark  santaana  ontario 
july 2017 by robertogreco
A Boom Interview: Mike Davis in conversation with Jennifer Wolch and Dana Cuff – Boom California
"Dana Cuff: You told us that you get asked about City of Quartz too often, so let’s take a different tack. As one of California’s great urban storytellers, what is missing from our understanding of Los Angeles?

Mike Davis: The economic logic of real estate and land development. This has always been the master key to understanding spatial and racial politics in Southern California. As the late-nineteenth century’s most influential radical thinker—I’m thinking of San Francisco’s Henry George not Karl Marx—explained rather magnificently, you cannot reform urban space without controlling land values. Zoning and city planning—the Progressive tools for creating the City Beautiful—either have been totally co-opted to serve the market or died the death of a thousand cuts, that is to say by variances. I was briefly an urban design commissioner in Pasadena in the mid-1990s and saw how easily state-of-the-art design standards and community plans were pushed aside by campaign contributors and big developers.

If you don’t intervene in the operation of land markets, you’ll usually end up producing the opposite result from what you intended. Over time, for instance, improvements in urban public space raise home values and tend to become amenity subsidies for wealthier people. In dynamic land markets and central locations, nonprofits can’t afford to buy land for low-income housing. Struggling artists and hipsters inadvertently become the shock troops of gentrification and soon can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods and warehouse districts they invigorated. Affordable housing and jobs move inexorably further apart and the inner-city crisis ends up in places like San Bernardino.

If you concede that the stabilization of land values is the precondition for long-term democratic planning, there are two major nonrevolutionary solutions. George’s was the most straightforward: execute land monopolists and profiteers with a single tax of 100 percent on increases in unimproved land values. The other alternative is not as radical but has been successfully implemented in other advanced capitalist countries: municipalize strategic parts of the land inventory for affordable housing, parks and form-giving greenbelts.

The use of eminent domain for redevelopment, we should recall, was originally intended to transform privately owned slums into publicly owned housing. At the end of the Second World War, when progressives were a majority in city government, Los Angeles adopted truly visionary plans for both public housing and rational suburban growth. What then happened is well known: a municipal counter-revolution engineered by the LA Times. As a result, local governments continued to use eminent domain but mainly to transfer land from small owners to corporations and banks.

Fast-forward to the 1980s. A new opportunity emerged. Downtown redevelopment was devouring hundreds of millions of dollars of diverted taxes, but its future was bleak. A few years before, Reyner Banham had proclaimed that Downtown was dead or at least irrelevant. If the Bradley administration had had the will, it could have municipalized the Spring-Main Street corridor at rock-bottom market prices. Perhaps ten million square feet would have become available for family apartments, immigrant small businesses, public markets, and the like, at permanently controlled affordable rents.

I once asked Kurt Meyer, a corporate architect who had been chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency, about this. He lived up Beachwood Canyon below the Hollywood Sign. We used to meet for breakfast because he enjoyed yarning about power and property in LA, and this made him a unique source for my research at the time. He told me that downtown elites were horrified by the unexpected revitalization of the Broadway corridor by Mexican businesses and shoppers, and the last thing they wanted was a populist downtown.

He also answered a question that long vexed me. “Kurt, why this desperate, all-consuming priority to have the middle class live downtown?” “Mike, do you know anything about leasing space in high-rise buildings?” “Not really.” “Well, the hardest part to rent is the ground floor: to extract the highest value, you need a resident population. You can’t just have office workers going for breakfast and lunch; you need night time, twenty-four hour traffic.” I don’t know whether this was really an adequate explanation but it certainly convinced me that planners and activists need a much deeper understanding of the game.

In the event, the middle class has finally come downtown but only to bring suburbia with them. The hipsters think they’re living in the real thing, but this is purely faux urbanism, a residential mall. Downtown is not the heart of the city, it’s a luxury lifestyle pod for the same people who claim Silverlake is the “Eastside” or that Venice is still bohemian.

Cuff: Why do you call it suburbia?

Davis: Because the return to the center expresses the desire for urban space and crowds without allowing democratic variety or equal access. It’s fool’s gold, and gentrification has taken the place of urban renewal in displacing the poor. Take Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris’s pioneering study of the privatization of space on the top of Bunker Hill. Of course, your museum patron or condo resident feels at home, but if you’re a Salvadorian skateboarder, man, you’re probably headed to Juvenile Hall."



"Jennifer Wolch: Absolutely. However it’s an important question particularly for the humanities students, the issue of subjectivity makes them reticent to make proposals.

Davis: But, they have skills. Narrative is an important part of creating communities. People’s stories are key, especially about their routines. It seems to me that there are important social science skills, but the humanities are important particularly because of stories. I also think a choreographer would be a great analyst of space and kind of an imagineer for using space.

I had a long talk with Richard Louv one day about his Last Child in the Woods, one of the most profound books of our time, a meditation on what it means for kids to lose contact with nature, with free nomadic unorganized play and adventure. A generation of mothers consigned to be fulltime chauffeurs, ferrying kids from one commercial distraction or over-organized play date to another. I grew up in eastern San Diego County, on the very edge of the back country, and once you did your chores (a serious business in those days), you could hop on your bike and set off like Huck Finn. There was a nudist colony in Harbison Canyon about twelve miles away, and we’d take our bikes, push them uphill for hours and hours in the hope of peeking through the fence. Like all my friends, I got a .22 (rifle) when I turned twelve. We did bad things to animals, I must confess, but we were free spirits, hated school, didn’t worry about grades, kept our parents off our backs with part-time jobs and yard work, and relished each crazy adventure and misdemeanor. Since I moved back to San Diego in 2002, I have annual reunions with the five or six guys I’ve known since second grade in 1953. Despite huge differences in political beliefs and religion, we’re still the same old gang.

And gangs were what kept you safe and why mothers didn’t have to worry about play dates or child molesters. I remember even in kindergarten—we lived in the City Heights area of San Diego at that time—we had a gang that walked to school together and played every afternoon. Just this wild group of little boys and girls, seven or eight of us, roaming around, begging pennies to buy gum at the corner store. Today the idea of unsupervised gangs of children or teenagers sounds like a law-and-order problem. But it’s how communities used to work and might still work. Aside from Louv, I warmly recommend The Child in the City by the English anarchist Colin Ward. A chief purpose of architecture, he argues, should be to design environments for unprogrammed fun and discovery."



"Wolch: We have one last question, about your young adult novels. Whenever we assign something from City of Quartz or another of your disheartening pieces about LA, it’s hard not to worry that the students will leave the class and jump off of a cliff! But your young adult novels seem to capture some amount of an alternative hopeful future.

Davis: Gee, you shouldn’t be disheartened by my books on LA. They’re just impassioned polemics on the necessity of the urban left. And my third LA book, Magical Urbanism, literally glows with optimism about the grassroots renaissance going on in our immigrant neighborhoods. But to return to the two adolescent “science adventure” novels I wrote for Viggo Mortensen’s wonderful Perceval Press. Above all they’re expressions of longing for my oldest son after his mother moved him back to her native Ireland. The heroes are three real kids: my son, his step-brother, and the daughter of our best friends when I taught at Stony Brook on Long Island. Her name is Julia Monk, and she’s now a wildlife biologist doing a Ph.D. at Yale on pumas in the Andes. I’m very proud that I made her the warrior-scientist heroine of the novels, because it was an intuition about her character that she’s made real in every way—just a remarkable young person."
mikedavis  2016  interviews  economics  california  sanfrancisco  losangeles  henrygeorge  urbanism  urban  suburbia  suburbs  jenniferolch  danacuff  fauxurbanism  hipsters  downtown  property  ownership  housing  populism  progressive  progressivism  reynerbanham  planning  urbanplanning  citybeautiful  gentrification  cities  homeless  homelessness  michaelrotundi  frankgehry  richardlouv  gangs  sandiego  friendship  colinward  thechildinthecity  architecture  fun  discovery  informal  unprogrammed  freedom  capitalism  china  india  england  ireland  famine  optimism  juliamonk  children  teens  youth  development  realestate  zoning  sanbernardino  sciarc 
january 2017 by robertogreco
How our housing choices make adult friendships more difficult - Vox
[via: https://tinyletter.com/metafoundry/letters/metafoundry-54-nominative-determinism ]

"In the Atlantic, Julie Beck has a great new piece on "How Friendships Change in Adulthood." [http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/how-friendships-change-over-time-in-adulthood/411466/ ] It will ring true for Vox readers of, uh, a certain age. Like my age, for instance. Old, is what I'm saying.

I do think, however, that Beck left out an interesting piece of the puzzle. Our ability to form and maintain friendships is shaped in crucial ways by the physical spaces in which we live. "Land use," as it's rather aridly known, shapes behavior and sociality. And in America we have settled on patterns of land use that might as well have been designed to prevent spontaneous encounters, the kind out of which rich social ties are built.

We get by with a little less help from our friends

It's a familiar tale that Beck tells: Early in life, friendships are central to our development and sense of self. This is true right up through to those early post-collegiate years, when everyone is starting out in their professional lives.

And then people get married. They have kids. Their parents get older and need more care. They settle into careers. All those obligations — spouses, kids, family, work — are things we have to do. Friendships are things we choose to do. And that means, when time contracts and things get busier, friendships get bumped.

So as we get older, time with friends tapers off. "[In a study we did,] we asked people to tell us the story of the last person they became friends with, how they transitioned from acquaintance to friend," researcher Emily Langan told Beck. "It was interesting that people kind of struggled":
In a set of interviews he did in 1994 with middle-aged Americans about their friendships, [researcher William] Rawlins [of Ohio University] wrote that, "an almost tangible irony permeated these adults' discussions of close or ‘real’ friendship." They defined friendship as "being there" for each other, but reported that they rarely had time to spend with their most valued friends, whether because of circumstances, or through the age-old problem of good intentions and bad follow-through: "Friends who lived within striking distance of each other found that… scheduling opportunities to spend or share some time together was essential," Rawlins writes. "Several mentioned, however, that these occasions often were talked about more than they were accomplished."


This is a sad story. People almost universally report that friendships are important to their happiness and well-being. They don't want to lose touch with friends and stop making new ones. They lament it constantly. (I can testify to all of this firsthand.)

But as the habits of family and work settle in, friendships become an effort, and as every tired working parent knows, optional effort tends to get triaged.

Is this an inevitable state of affairs?"
cars  housing  sociology  suburbs  aging  2015  friendships  parenting  work  life  happiness  well-being  juliebeck  davidroberts  williamrawlins  baugruppen  baugruppe 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 54: Nominative Determinism
"EPICYCLES:

[…]

Probably what I appreciate most about the holiday break is not commuting. When I started driving in suburban Boston, I almost immediately generated a working hypothesis about why dense urban areas tend to lean left politically and why suburban areas lean right (in my hometown of Toronto, there was a pronounced political divide between the city proper and the surrounding '905ers', named after the area code for the immediate suburbs). Living in a city teaches you that strangers can co-exist and even cooperate (like everyone standing aside to let subway passengers disembark, for example). But if you live in the suburbs, your primary interaction with strangers is almost certainly in your car, and cars are sociopathy machines: people do many things in cars (like cut into a line) that they would never do on foot. Driving in the suburbs sends the message that, given the opportunity, a significant fraction of people put their own interests first regardless of the effect on others, so it doesn't seem like a big step to deciding that you need political systems that do similarly to ensure that you don't lose out to the people around you. Whereas living in cities, especially ones with good public transit, make it clear that strangers can work together and that homophily is not a requirement for everyone to benefit from shared resources; hence, left-wing. Getting a few days' break from driving definitely helps me with that seasonal 'good will towards one and all' thing. [While we're into amateur theories of political sociology, I'm a fan of the zombie apocalypse vs utopian future [http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/04/a-thrivesurvive-theory-of-the-political-spectrum/ ] dichotomy.]

ON FRIENDSHIPS, SOCIAL MEDIA, AND HOUSING: Speaking of the suburbs, I was struck by this article [http://www.vox.com/2015/10/28/9622920/housing-adult-friendship ] on how American choices in land use affect their ability of adults to make and maintain friendships: the norms of single-family homes and driving mean that social interactions need to be deliberately scheduled (or, in many sad cases, not scheduled). The evidence is that there are two key requirements for friendships to form: repeated, spontaneous interactions, and an environment where people can confide in each other. There's been a lot of discussion in my circles recently about the modes and affordances of social media sites, and a quiet exodus from public Twitter to small private accounts, or to Slack, or to mailing lists, or to, yes, newsletters. For many of us, Twitter was--and remains--an excellent place for those repeated, spontaneous interactions. But it's shifted from the 'small world growth phase' [http://hlwiki.slais.ubc.ca/index.php/File:SNSPrivacy.png ] to one where our experience is dominated by context collapse [http://hlwiki.slais.ubc.ca/index.php/Context_collapse_in_social_media ]. It's therefore no longer a safe environment for that second component of a nascent friendship, sharing with others, as the norms of civil inattention [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_inattention ] fail to keep pace with the site's phenomenal growth (This was most memorably demonstrated to me when a well-known author and speaker jumped into a conversation that a friend of mine and I were having about relationships to inform us--and the rest of his many followers--that 'women like bad boys'. Welp.) So this type of trust-building personal sharing is moving to more private fora. In my case, because I travel a fair bit, that includes the offline world. This use of Twitter and travel probably goes a long way to explaining why I'm an outlier in that, while I have a few good friends that I made in and kept from my teens and early twenties, I also have a number of very close friends that I've made in the last five years or so (the second major reason is likely because I do live in a dense urban walkshed where I run into friends spontaneously, in a city that draws out-of-town friends to visit). But I'm interested in seeing how people use different types of social media differently in the near future."
debchachra  2016  friendship  socialmedia  twitter  cities  cars  suburbs  sociopathy  housing  thewaywelive  urban  urbanism  toronto  boston  commuting  sociology  politicalsociology  suburbia 
january 2016 by robertogreco
How urbanisation can be a friend to birds – John M Marzluff – Aeon
"Human sprawl is usually a threat to wildlife, but birds buck the trend. Can we help biodiversity take wing in our suburbs?"



"I am not claiming that suburban sprawl is the answer to our conservation prayers: many species of sensitive and rare birds could never survive in our ’burbs. Even fewer animals that crawl or walk, such as mammals, reptiles and amphibians, manage to live long among us. And, where terrestrial biological diversity is greatest – in the magnificent tropical rainforests – biodiversity is steadily lost with progressive development. But development can enrich local areas by providing what many tolerant species require. Although ensuring global diversity still requires that we leave undisturbed space elsewhere for sensitive species, even then, the political will to create such reserves depends on our experiences with local diversity."



"The response of birds to urbanisation is only just beginning. Humans began living in cities around 5,000 years ago. Today, more than half of all people are urbanites. As exploiters and adapters learn and evolve strategies to survive among us, I expect to see new and stronger co-evolved relationships between people and other city animals. As well as kindling a diverse urban biota, it might even create unforeseen species.

One of the world’s oldest and largest cities illustrates what the future might hold for birds. Crows, which are supremely intelligent and innovative, thrive in most northern cities. In Japan’s capital Tokyo, the jungle crow has developed an array of cultural traditions well-suited to city life. Some crows gather walnuts, but because their shells are too tough to crack open by beak, the crows place them where passing cars can become nutcrackers. Other crows that live in the inner city, where the sticks necessary for nest-building are rare, routinely pilfer clothes hangers that they bend and weave into unique nests.

In A Sand County Almanac (1949), Aldo Leopold, the founding father of wildlife science, noted that, because we view land as a commodity rather than a community to which we belong, we're incapable of loving and respecting it. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in our cities and suburbs, where a small parcel of land and the home built on it is a substantial investment. But the economic value of land need not be incompatible with its ecological value; after all, houses fetch higher prices in tree-filled subdivisions where birds flourish. Letting your lawn go wild (which benefits butterflies) reduces the cost of maintenance. And surrounding metropolitan areas with a healthy, vegetated watershed saves millions of dollars every year in water purification costs.

Even without monetary incentives, experiencing nature right outside the door builds empathy. In East Brunswick, New Jersey, and Palo Alto, California, residents appalled at the roadway slaughter of newts and salamanders, created safe passageways for them in the form of small tunnels or temporary road closures. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution have stirred up a passion for conservation in Washington, DC, by involving residents in their suburban bird research. The more personal a bird becomes to a human – by tagging it, or simply discovering its nest – the easier it is to make sacrifices on its behalf."



"My enthusiasm for wilderness remains intact, but it’s become part of a broader conservation ethic that places equal value on nearby nature. Wondering and learning from our urban ecosystem teaches us to value nature in its broadest sense. In our cities and backyards, we experience how natural processes pay economic, spiritual and biological dividends. Noticing the responses of animals and plants to our actions provides a glimpse into the creative power of natural selection. As our appreciation for nature and the ecological and evolutionary processes that shape it grows from direct experience, our gardens work symbiotically with wilderness to inform our land ethic and conserve the full range of life."
nature  birds  animals  cities  biodiversity  adaptation  evolution  wildlife  2014  johnmarzluff  crows  corvids  aldoleopold  empathy  urban  urbanism  conservation  suburbs  subirdia  suburbia  ecology 
october 2014 by robertogreco
A Conversation with Andrew Blauvelt and Tracy Myers | Worlds Away
[Found in Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes: http://www.amazon.com/Worlds-Away-John-Archer/dp/0935640908 ]

"AB: It’s the old cliché, but a picture is worth a thousand words. The symbolism around an image or around a building is so much stronger. Images tend to be more specific, and that carries with it much more baggage, while statistics and theories seem more abstract to most people.

TM: Surely people pass in their grocery store, or at the gas station, the new suburbanite: the immigrant, the African American family, or the Indian family, or whomever. But it might not really register. Although I don’t believe that artistic representation of something necessarily endows it with additional value, the fact that an artist pays attention to suburbia might cause a visitor to stop and say, “Wait a minute. If this is important or interesting enough for an artist to be exploring it, or for an architect to be thinking about it, then it must be meaningful, and maybe I need to stop and think about my own situation, my own neighborhood, my own environment.”

KS: And beyond that, you have work here that represents a rich critique. In what ways do you see the exhibition exploring, for example, the increasing cultural diversity of suburbia?

AB: Artist Laura Migliorino, who lives here in Minneapolis, travels past suburban development every day and was intrigued because she watched the sprawl happen—it just follows you to your workplace, down the highway, and it evolves over the years (pages 33–37). And then one day she decided to explore it. She started asking to photograph people there, and was surprised by the diversity she found. Some of that diversity is due to the fact that most immigrants used to settle in urban areas, in the city, which was the traditional place because it was the most convenient and cheapest place to live. Today, the settlement pattern is very different—now it’s suburban—and for different reasons.

TM: It’s also where the jobs are. Most of the job growth since the 1980s has been in the suburbs.

AB: And when you don’t have great public transportation, you have to live closer to work. Some of that might be fueled by basic housing needs. If you have an Asian immigrant culture that is based around multigenerational family life, and the family is all living under one roof (or wants to), then the house type that you’re looking for might be a first-ring suburban house. It’s a larger structure, there are many bedrooms, and it’s at a price point that is more affordable.

TM: Or people might build another structure on their property to accommodate multigenerational families or multiple individuals, not related, living within one house. One of the interesting things is that many of the conditions people thought they were leaving behind in the city now occur in older suburbs. Infrastructure is getting old, taxes are going up, and immigration is increasing density and diversity. In some places, this has led to overt hostility—it’s upending all the expectations of people who moved to the suburbs thirty or forty years ago.

KS: There are also the retail battles. If you’re going to fashion a new retail district in a culturally diverse suburb like Fremont, California, which has become an ethnoburb with large Chinese and Indian populations, what kind of retail will there be? Will there be a diverse range of restaurants and grocery stores, or will it be anchored with big box retail or national chains? There was some tension over this a few years ago. But then there’s architect Teddy Cruz . . .

AB: I was also going to bring him up because he offers a good example of how looking at patterns of habitation and dwelling in Tijuana might affect suburban development in San Diego and vice-versa (page 120).

TM: He’s very interested in not eradicating, or obliterating, the local immigrant culture’s particular practices and traditions, but rather allowing the architecture to respond to them and privilege them. As someone who is involved in community development, I know how very complicated it can be, and the thing that most fascinates me about Teddy’s work is the process-based nature of it. And this is what makes it so challenging to represent: he describes it as triangulation among the citizens, the architects, and the city government, trying to convince the city to accommodate these situations that fall outside the mental framework of what is an appropriate way to live, or what is an appropriate way to build. It’s multigenerational; it celebrates communal living outdoors. Some of the other architectural projects in the exhibition are actually rather neutral in the way they incorporate thinking about changing demographics. They’re not so much responding to a specific kind of population as they are responding to a specific physical and economic condition.

KS: Why do you think that is?

TM: Well, mostly it’s a matter of the scale of the condition those particular projects address: a dead mall, for example, or a larger exurban situation rather than a single residence. These are theoretical projects that could be realized.

AB: They tend to be pragmatic, yet visionary. And they’re not formally driven, which doesn’t mean that they look bad! It’s thinking about occupiable space, rather than simply the purity of space, for example.

TM: Another thing about the architectural projects is their incremental nature, as in the proposals of Lateral Architecture (page 235) and Interboro (page 225). I think this marks a big change in architectural thinking; whether or not it filters through the profession in general remains to be seen. Both of those projects accept given conditions and propose changes that either respond to those conditions and make lemonade out of lemons, as it were, or in some other way try to massage the condition.

AB: It’s very tactical, looking for opportunities when or where you can. Lateral Architecture, for example, examines the space between big boxes in what are called power centers and ways that it can be occupied or programmed differently. It’s not Victor Gruen’s utopian vision of the regional shopping mall. In fact, Interboro studied the activity patterns of a dead mall. The mall is not truly dead because people are still there; not a lot of people, of course, but it’s more about a mall’s afterlife, or half-life, while it is in economic transition.

TM: And some of the mall activity is very illicit. Recognizing that fact is a much more realistic way of thinking about any kind of change than trying to completely transform something.

KS: Another thing that strikes me with somebody like Teddy Cruz is that he is opening up opportunities for others to continue to transform the landscape.

AB: Exactly. He’s ceding control, or perhaps better, creating a framework. It’s not about mastery. You create a structure, and allow it to evolve and develop on its own terms. As an architect you have to be okay with that, but it demands a strong framework.

TM: The subtext is not the typical attitude that drove modernist planning: “This is all wrong. We have to change it.” Lateral and Interboro are saying, “Okay, the status quo might not be great, but this is what it is. What can we do with it, rather than trying to transform the attitudes that led to this situation?” I think that’s pretty radical, actually.

KS: It raises the issue of critique from the outside in as opposed to the inside out—about artists and architects who might have grown up in suburbia, who might be living in suburban conditions, engaging with them as they’re producing and examining the increasing complexity of their reactions to suburbia. Are you still seeing a cultural vanguard’s reaction very much from the outside?

AB: The cultural vanguard’s negative critique of suburbia, I believe, forms the normative position on suburbia. However, lived experience and firsthand knowledge of the place can produce more nuanced or complex, and even contradictory, reactions."
teddycruz  2007  suburbs  suburbia  andrewblauvelt  tracymeyers  katherinesolomonson  sandiego  tijuana  immigrants  culture  cities  urbanism  architecture  design  border  borders  lauramigliorino 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Chris Christie’s New Jersey Is Everything That’s Wrong With America - James Howard Kunstler - POLITICO Magazine
"These adjustments all hinge on the re-localization and downscaling of the major activities that add up to civilized life: we have to grow more of our food closer to home (as oil-based agri-business flounders); we have to move out of failing suburbia into more compact neighborhoods and towns; we have to prepare for the difficult, necessary contraction of our overgrown giant urban metroplexes (New York City in particular); we have to re-organize commerce away from the monocultures of car-dependent big box corporate despotism and rebuild resilient Main Street infrastructures of trade, and we have to do all these things with a kind of conscious and deliberate earnestness that amounts to a national sense of purpose—something sorely absent in these baleful days of Kardashians, universal obesity and comprehensive American anomie. In short, we have to become a lot less like New Jersey."
2014  urban  urbanism  suburbs  agriculture  chrischristie  newjersey  jameshowardkunstler  transportation  cars  publictransit  politics  policy  government  monoculture 
january 2014 by robertogreco
MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism
"The Center for Advanced Urbanism is committed to fostering a rigorous design culture for the large scale; by focusing our disciplinary conversations about architecture, urban planning, and systems thinking, not about the problems of yesterday, but of tomorrow. Alan Berger, Director of Research, and myself are motivated by the radical changes in our environment, and the role that high design and research can play in addressing these. We embrace conversations with the world's absolute top experts in planning, engineering, and technology, all at MIT, to feed and foster the growing field of large-scale design and research. We take pride in the fact that participants in the center do not just talk about things; they do projects, build things, and actively change our society out in the real world; and then come together to learn from each other's experiences, publish, and debate about future directions. The Center for Advanced Urbanism has been established at the initiative of the Dean and Chairs of the School of Architecture and Planning and reflects a renewed drive to excellence in urbanism.

—Alexander D'Hooghe, Director, Center for Advanced Urbanism"

[A video introduction is here: http://cau.mit.edu/news/cau-releases-urbanism-film and here https://vimeo.com/59435045 ]
mit  cau  centerforadvancedurbanism  urbanism  urbanplanning  scale  environment  experience  cities  urban  systemsthinking  systems  interdisciplinary  future  infill  design  planning  engineering  interurbanism  suburbs  suburbia  society  technology  mitcau  architecture 
february 2013 by robertogreco
The Shopping Mall Turns 60 (and Prepares to Retire) - Arts & Lifestyle - The Atlantic Cities
"About a third of our malls are still thriving, and those are the biggest, newest ones. But America is no longer building many new highways, which means we’ve stopped creating prime new locations for mall development. Some of the earliest amenities of the enclosed mall—air-conditioning!—no longer impress us. And the demographics of suburbia have changed dramatically. Malls draw the largest share of their customers from teenagers, and the baby boomers who largely populate suburbia no longer have teenagers at home.

For all these reasons, the suburban mall of Gruen’s plan appears to be victim of more than just the recession. Dunham-Jones, who has tracked this trend in her book Retrofitting Suburbia, estimates that more than 40 malls nationwide have been targeted for significant redevelopment. And she can count 29 that have already been repurposed, or that have construction underway."

[via and more: http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/deja_vu/2012/07/mall-madness.php ]
grueneffect  dayton  detroit  ellendunham-jones  2012  consumptionpatterns  consumption  victorgruen  cities  architect  architecture  urbanism  urban  trends  shopping  suburbs  us  malls  shoppingmalls  via:maxfenton 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Why You Should Be Skeptical of Statistics on City vs. Suburban Population Growth - Arts & Lifestyle - The Atlantic Cities
"One of the reasons it's frustrating that you just hear about city versus suburbs is there's so much heterogeneity of suburbs, that it's really not fair to treat all suburbs as the same. Some suburbs are dense. Some are old streetcar suburbs. Some have been trying, through transit investment and investment in main streets downtown, to create walkable denser communities. This has been happening throughout the country.

What we need to do is stop looking at these crude city-versus-suburb divides and we need to start looking at where is the growth actually happening. Is it happening in places where we'd expect — are people voting with their feet, so to speak, to go to these denser places? Is it actually the case that people want more urban existence? I think we'd probably find evidence that's the case. That does not mean the overwhelming majority of Americans want that. One of the issues is how big of a market is there for the urbanist ideal. We just don't know."
trends  us  urbanism  urban  demographics  davidking  ericjaffe  via:javierarbona  2012  density  suburbs  cities 
july 2012 by robertogreco
DAILY SERVING » Summer of Utopia: Interview with Ted Purves
"I feel like a project is successful if we have had substantive encounters with people, if we have created spaces where a kind of exchange—whether it’s family history, or talking about why something should or shouldn’t be in an art museum, or sometimes it’s just swapping recipes—some form of animated or engaged dialogue comes out, or some sort of story emerges. It means we learn something, a story can be brought forward from that, that’s when things are successful. Another high-five moment comes when there is something compelling to look at. A lot of times when you see a social practice show, it’s either a room full of crap to read, or it looks like a place where they had a party and you didn’t get to go. I’ve been to a lot of those, and they’re not satisfying! You either wish they had just printed a book you could take home and read in your own chair—because it’s not very comfortable to sit in a museum—or you wish that you’d been at the party."

[via: http://randallszott.org/2012/05/25/ted-purves-aesthetics-social-practice-personal-economies/ ]
urbanism  rural  cities  urban  suburban  suburbia  suburbs  belief  via:leisurearts  democracy  alteration  change  perception  lemoneverlastingbackyard  wrongness  weirdness  glvo  openendedness  seeing  art  aesthetics  fruit  dialog  publicspaces  publicspace  workinginpublic  disagreement  decisionmaking  debate  negotiation  unplanning  thebluehouse  temescalamityworks  susannecockrell  sharing  2010  overlappingeconomies  capitalism  economics  utopia  thomasmore  socialpractice  tedpurves  dialogue 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Giant Robot - Artist Friends Series - Ako Castuera - YouTube
"Ako Castuera is a painter, sculptor, and textile artist. For Realms (art exhibition at Giant Robot 2 LA), she has turned her focus to work on paper with a variety of media, primarily using watercolor and gouache. The works continue her ongoing interest in land, the life within it, and the life it sustains. "Suburban tracts sprawl over hills and are at once picturesque, parasitic, and fragile. They coexist with dinosaur like animal forms that suggest prehistoric life," she says. "Dinosaurs have always inspired awe and fed fantasies of the past. Their extinction forces contemplation of the future, of what's in store for the land, animals, and humans all." Ako studied at CCA, and is based in Los Angeles where she works as a writer/storyboard artist on the animated television show, Adventure Time."
watercolor  life  knitting  atemporality  time  sprawl  land  dinosaurs  suburbs  suburbia  2011  place  landscapes  landscape  glvo  art  giantrobot  akocastuera  textiles 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Next American City » Sympathy for the Suburbs
"But Foreclosed seethes with disdain for the suburbs, and the lack of an empathetic understanding of how the suburbs function and are changing, ultimately makes the exhibit look less visionary than ignorant…

These radical visions that are so insensitive to the suburbs remind me of the Modernist public housing projects that were once foisted on inner cities. Created by well-intentioned but essentially ignorant architects and planners, those buildings made sense in theory but not in practice. They didn’t respond to the rhythms and needs of the people who would be housed there, because the architects didn’t really respect or understand the lives of poor people. MoMA should have found some architects who could love and live in the suburbs, showing us the way to make the most of suburban housing instead of wishing it didn’t exist."
hilarysample  michaelmeredith  losangeles  oregon  illinois  california  florida  newjersey  templeterrace  theoranges  cicero  keizer  rialto  cities  edglaeser  misregistration  repurposing  revitalization  infrastructure  jeannegang  WORKac  foreclosed  barrybergdoll  housing  andrewzago  buellhypothesis  moma  design  planning  poverty  urbanism  urban  architecture  suburbia  suburbs  2012  foreclosure  housingbubble  housingcrisis 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Swimming with the stars - Five-Minute Museum - Salon.com
"When I started thinking about it … I realized that in many ways, in the post-war period, Southern California was the ideal of what the American dream was going to look like. At the center of that was the swimming pool, and suburban expansion, and the concept of everybody living in this place that didn’t have the danger of nature, but had all the benefits of the natural landscape. A place that was away from the city, but at the same time felt domesticated. I started thinking about the pool as the central icon of that both real and imaginary place. And it grew from there."
daniellcornell  cindysherman  highculture  popularculture  backyards  suburbia  suburbs  hollywood  nature  design  architecture  art  palmspringsartmuseum  barbarakruger  davidhockney  pacificstandardtime  photography  2012  southerncalifornia  socal  california  swimmingpools 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Debunking the Cul-de-Sac - Design - The Atlantic Cities
"Safest cities in America are the ones incorporated before 1930, when streets were laid out in grids. Fashion and regulation shifted then to favouring winding streets and cul-de-sacs. Which turn out to be inefficient and dangerous"
safety  urbandesign  urban  urbanism  cities  suburbs  suburbia  density  cars  transportation  cul-de-sac  california  research  normangarrick  wesleymarshall  patterns  comparison  grids  traditionalgrid  fha  design  urbanplanning  2011 
september 2011 by robertogreco
New Statesman - The suburb that changed the world
"In the 1980s, Silicon Valley was populated by lefties and hippies who dreamed of a computer revolution. One of the pioneers recalls how the internet was born."

"What is strangest in the recent waves of young arrivals in Silicon Valley is that they tend no longer to be downtrodden geniuses rejected in the playing of social status games, but sterling alpha males. Legions of perfect specimens seem to have grown up in manicured childhoods, nothing scrappy about them. When children started to be raised perfectly in the 1990s, chauffeured from one play date to the next, I wondered what world they would want as adults. Socialism? Facebook and similar designs seem to me continuations of the artificial order we gave children during the boom years."

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/9474103819/what-is-strangest-in-the-recent-waves-of-young ]
technology  culture  internet  history  computers  siliconvalley  2011  jaronlanier  parenting  childhood  socialism  web  1980s  suburbs 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Detroit: The Death of Manhattanism - Op-Ed - Domus
"As far as the similarities from one urban circumstance to another, there is a case to be made for the emergence of a global typology and the slow transformation of American cities toward a global model. White flight, the demographic phenomenon that defined American cities in the 2nd half of the twentieth century, is finally unwinding itself. Witness the rise of the "hipster," which is really just a polite and racially sublimated way of talking about white culture as urban culture. Alongside this, we are witnessing the rise of the black and immigrant suburbs. American cities are moving in the direction of operating more like European and South American cities. The latter part of the twentieth century in this country was an anomaly compared to global urban and suburban development, and that historical moment is over."
detroit  brooklyn  berlin  cities  mitchmcewen  urban  hipsterism  globalcities  transformation  hipsters  gentrification  us  urbanism  2011  suburbs  innercities  diversity  segregation  nola  neworleans 
august 2011 by robertogreco
The American suburbs are a giant Ponzi scheme | Grist
"Since the end of WWII, our cities & towns have experienced growth using three primary mechanisms:

1. Transfer payments between governments: where the federal or state government makes a direct investment in growth at the local level, such as funding a water or sewer system expansion.

2. Transportation spending: where transportation infrastructure is used to improve access to a site that can then be developed.

3. Public and private-sector debt: where cities, developers, companies, & individuals take on debt as part of the development process, whether during construction or through the assumption of a mortgage.

In each of these mechanisms, the local unit of government benefits from the enhanced revenues associated with new growth. But it also typically assumes the long-term liability for maintaining the new infrastructure. This exchange -- a near-term cash advantage for a long-term financial obligation -- is one element of a Ponzi scheme…"
politics  economics  cities  urban  business  suburbs  suburbia  ponzischemes  government  strongtowns  sustainability  finance  infrastructure  2011  charlesmarohn  future  development  transportation  liabilities  maintenance  urbanism  policy  longterm 
july 2011 by robertogreco
James Enos talks about Clairemont on Vimeo
His informal presentation on the critique of Clairemont from Pecha Kucha on April 20th. The piece discussed in his rant is currently on show at MCASD in La Jolla's "Here Not There" opening.
1951  tracthomes  clairemont  jamesenos  informal  sandiego  architecture  herenotthere  mcasd  pechakucha  housing  alterations  art  design  vernacular  entitlement  dwellmagazine  dwell  clairemonterasure  suburbs  suburbia  parametricarchitecture  juxtaposition  realestate  commentary  tracthousing  criticalpractice  whatwewant  socal  buildingboom  southpark  humor 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Poems and related texts ["Everything makes more Everything makes more Everything makes more Everything makes more Everything makes more", Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, 1975]
[Google translation] "The storytellers go on, the auto industry carries on, the workers continue to
Governments continue to rock & roll singer keep going, the prices go, the
Paper further makes the animals & trees to keep going, day & night carries on, the moon rises,
the sun rises, her eyes go door to go, his mouth opens, one speaks, one does
Signs, signs on the walls of houses, signs on the street signs in the machinery that moves
are movements in the rooms…
old newspapers blowing across an empty parking gray, wild bushes & grass grow in the
are left behind debris land in the middle of the inner city, a construction fence has been painted blue, to
the fence is a sign nailed to stick posters of prohibition…
go on, go on the elevators, the walls of houses continue, the city makes
Next, the suburbs continue ... All the questions continue, as will make all the answers.
The space will continue. I make eye on & look at a white piece of paper."
1975  via:cervus  poetry  german  rolfdieterbrinkman  storytelling  writing  continuity  suburbs  life 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Shaping the City: Seeking a new template for truly smart growth - The Washington Post
"A more demographically complex society induces cultural and economic shifts, including perceptions about urban life. Reportedly a majority of Americans, especially young adults and senior citizens, now prefer living in walkable neighborhoods and sustainably designed communities characterized by diverse land uses and a broad array of civic amenities. Their close-to-home wish list includes: transit access; plenty of shopping; cultural, recreational and entertainment venues; parks and playgrounds; good public schools; health-care services, and job opportunities. Affordable housing is also on the list.<br />
Shifting demographics, along with increasing consumer interest in a more-urban existence, are redefining the real estate market. This requires rethinking how we plan, regulate, design and build — or rebuild — parts of suburbs and the cities they encircle. To respond to evolving market forces, new templates for truly smart growth are needed. Such templates must do the following…"
cities  trends  urban  urbanism  sprawl  urbanplanning  smartgrowth  us  suburbs  suburbia  housing  walking  publictransit  economics  change  2011  rogerlewis  walkability  diversity  sustainability  community  neighborhoods 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Suburbs and Cubicles : peterme.com
"The cubicle farm strikes me as the real-world embodiment of the dehumanization represented in org charts. I’m reading Douglas Rushkoff’s Life, Inc., about the rise of corporatism. He mentions the flight to the suburbs (also mentioned in The McDonaldization of Society) and I wondered about the connection between the suburbs and the cubicle farm. Both contributed to the individualizing of America, our separation from one another.. Both strike me as products of Weberian rationalization, in that tract homes and cubicle farms are models of efficiency and quantifiability from the stand point of production… but ultimately isolating and damaging from the perspective of those who have to live in and use them."
suburbs  suburbia  cubicles  perermerholz  work  workplace  structures  industrialage  deschooling  unschooling  community  communities  separation  individualized  individualism  collaboration  corporatism  lcproject  tcsnmy  hierarchy  petermerholz 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Blueprints for a Better ‘Burb - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com
"[The] prevailing vision contradicts the reality of suburbia today. There may be white picket fences & home owners associations in common, but beyond that, “suburb” has outlived its usefulness as a descriptive term — and as a model for future planning, at least in its current incarnation. Suburbs continue to be designed for homogeneity even though they’re no longer homogeneous at all, & in fact have become increasingly varied in type, density, infrastructure & demographics..."

[via: http://varnelis.net/blog/blueprints_for_a_better_burb ]
architecture  suburbia  suburbs  sustainability  transportation  traffic  urbanism  urban  planning  competitions  ecology  energy  environment  housing  systems  systemsthinking  kazysvarnelis  longisland 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The Places I Have Come to Fear the Most « Snarkmarket
"I have a reflex­ive dis­like of sub­urbs. I grew up in Orlando, in one of its sub­urbs stacked on sub­urbs, all in dis­tant orbit around a tiny cen­ter of faux-urbanity we called down­town. (Which in turn hov­ered in dis­tant orbit around a giant cen­ter of faux-reality we called Dis­ney World.)

Orlando feels hor­ri­bly life­less to me. I often say that in Orlando, you have to drive 20 min­utes to get to the con­ve­nience store. I can’t think of a sin­gle good Mom-&-Pop shop around where I grew up. When I go back to visit, there are no places where my friends and I can sit idly and chat until the wee hours. For a while, we seri­ously took to fre­quent­ing the lob­bies of the nicer hotels...How could any­one choose a sub­urb over a city? I ask myself. Cities engen­der cre­ativ­ity and comity & effi­ciency. The Renais­sance could never have taken place in a sub­ur­ban­ized Europe.

But I occa­sion­ally get jolted out of my city-worship when I encounter a bit of real­ity like..."
mattthompson  snarkmarket  cities  suburbs  2005  orlando  boston  washingtondc  schools  parenting  urban  sustainability  nyc  suburbia  vibrancy  efficiency  invention  renaissance  creativity  dc 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Commuting : The Frontal Cortex
"David Brooks, summarizing the current state of happiness research: "The daily activity most injurious to happiness is commuting. According to one study, being married produces a psychic gain equivalent to more than $100,000 a year." In other words, the best way to make yourself happy is to have a short commute and get married. I'm afraid science can't tell us very much about marriage so let's talk about commuting. A few years ago, the Swiss economists Bruno Frey and Alois Stutzer announced the discovery of a new human foible, which they called "the commuters paradox". They found that, when people are choosing where to live, they consistently underestimate the pain of a long commute. This leads people to mistakenly believe that the big house in the exurbs will make them happier, even though it might force them to drive an additional hour to work."
commuting  happiness  davidbrooks  housing  urbanplanning  suburbia  marriage  neuroscience  jonahlehrer  behavior  cars  driving  psychology  estimation  planning  urban  urbanism  transportation  traffic  suburbs  lifestyle  living  satisfaction 
april 2010 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG Expedition to the Geoglyphs of Nowhere - Eventbrite
"In the desert 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles is a suburb abandoned in advance of itself: the unfinished extension of a place called California City. Visible from above now as a series of badly paved streets carved into the dust and gravel, the outer edges of California City are like some peculiarly American response to the Nazca Lines. The uninhabited street plan has become an abstract geoglyph—unintentional land art visible from airplanes—not a thriving community at all.
architecture  california  suburbs  bldgblog  desert  abandoned  mojave  todo  californiacity 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Global Guerrillas: RC JOURNAL: The Inevitable Failure of Suburbia?
"I start with the view that a suburban town is a community and not just type of architecture. People/families live their lives in these towns. So, as a community, it's ability to survive/thrive is a function of its adaptability. If the future is going to be as tough as we think it is, then the question of suburbia really becomes: are suburban communities adaptable enough to thrive in the future (as in: becoming resilient communities). Given the advantages of the suburban landscape (land, surface area, security, etc.) has over rural/urban in many revival scenarios (post crunch), the only existential threat to these communities appears to be the from the global financial system -- aka a foreclosure tsunami that decimates communities faster than they can reconfigure/change. I think that problem is solvable."
suburbia  suburbs  johnrobb  future  adaptation  adaptability  resilience  change  communities  community 
november 2009 by robertogreco
ReBurbia
"In a future where limited natural resources will force us to find better solutions for density and efficiency, what will become of the cul-de-sacs, cookie-cutter tract houses and generic strip malls that have long upheld the diffuse infrastructure of suburbia? How can we redirect these existing spaces to promote sustainability, walkability, and community? It’s a problem that demands a visionary design solution and we want you to create the vision! ... Show us how you would re-invent the suburbs! What would a McMansion become if it weren’t a single-family dwelling? How could a vacant big box store be retrofitted for agriculture? What sort of design solutions can you come up with to facilitate car-free mobility, ‘burb-grown food, and local, renewable energy generation? We want to see how you’d design future-proof spaces and systems using the suburban structures of the present, from small-scale retrofits to large-scale restoration—the wilder the better!"
design  architecture  urban  suburban  redevelopment  capitalism  suburbia  planning  bldgblog  suburbs  urbanplanning  meltdown  landscape  competition  infrastructure  housing  cities  competitions  dwell  contests 
july 2009 by robertogreco
On the Death of the Suburbs | varnelis.net
"For all the talk about suburbs as "urban parasites," scholars have demonstrated that suburbs and city cores are now inextricably linked. If anything, such infrastructural collapse would lead to further growth in the distant suburbs and in exurbia (I, for one, would think about bugging out to Vermont before everyone else does). It's very much in the interest of urban and suburban leaders to work together to find solutions."
kazysvarnelis  suburbs  urban  infrastructure  collapse  suburbia 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Consumed - Repurpose-Driven Life - NYTimes.com
"A recent book, “Retrofitting Suburbia,” by Ellen Dunham-Jones and June Williamson, notes that in 1986, the United States had about 15 square feet of retail space per person in shopping centers. That was already a world-leading figure, but by 2003 it had increased by a third, to 20 square feet. The next countries on the list are Canada (13 square feet per person) and Australia (6.5 square feet); the highest figure in Europe is in Sweden, with 3 square feet per person. “Retrofitting Suburbia,” as its title suggests, is concerned with projects that address problems stemming from “leapfrog”-style development — the constant expansion of new housing, and new stores, farther away from city centers. As Dunham-Jones, an associate professor of architecture at Georgia Tech, told me when we spoke recently, one of those problems is that we’ve gotten “overretailed.”"
adaptivereuse  reuse  architecture  retail  space  change  crisis  adaptive  suburbia  malls  us  suburbs  books  via:adamgreenfield 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Firedoglake » The Reaganites Self-Inflicted Recession
"However, as even Republican strategists note, this exposes the real division in the Republican coalition, not between social and economic conservatives, but between exurbanites, and suburbanites. It is very easy to persuade exurbanites that they aren't socialists, even as they work on military bases, land leased at concessionary rates for mining, subsidized agriculture, waste facilities, and prisons. It is far harder to convince suburbanites of the evils of government, when they live in a place that is made safe by government, and whose value comes from subsidized education and transportation. The internal contradiction of Reaganism, then, has produced a vast self-inflicted wound on the very people who mobilized for it."
via:migurski  politics  economics  democrats  republicans  conservatism  california  cities  exurbs  suburbs  us  taxes  reagan  unemployment  recession 
june 2009 by robertogreco
the arbour lake sghool
"The Sghool’s mandate is to provide a stage for the creation and display of artistic or critical projects in a way which explores and engages our suburban setting. Activities under this mandate excite, entertain, and often serve as comic interlude in the not-so-secret game of suburban one-upmanship. A loose association of artists, athletes, musicians, trades-people and students form the core group of project participants. Membership in the group is not determined by any specific criteria other than a desire and willingness to collaborate in a diverse and open-minded atmosphere."
art  architecture  community  collaboration  suburbs  suburban  public  performance  us  artists  collective 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Jim Kunstler : The Abyss Stares Back
"In the folder marked "unsustainable" you can file most of the artifacts, usufructs, habits, and expectations of recent American life: suburban living, credit-card spending, Happy Motoring, vacations in Las Vegas, college education for the masses, and cheap food among them. All these things are over."
jameshowardkunstler  collapse  local  colleges  universities  education  learning  schools  schooling  peakoil  crisis  2009  suburbs  suburbia  us  credit 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Kim Beck I Ideal Cities I Works
"Using images of architecture and landscape, Kim Beck makes drawings, prints, paintings and installations that survey peripheral and suburban spaces. Her work urges a reconsideration of the built environment - the peculiar street signs, gas station banners, overgrown weeded lots, and self-storage buildings — bringing the banal and everyday into focus."
kimbeck  artists  nature  green  design  landscape  sculpture  architecture  installation  portfolios  art  cardboard  glvo  via:reas  cities  suburbs  publicstorage  space  builtenvironment 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Worlds Away
"Because suburbia occupies a dominant presence in so many lives—a place of not only residence but also of work, commerce, worship, education, and leisure—it has become a focal point for competing interests and viewpoints. The suburbs have always been a fertile space for imagining both the best and the worst of modern social life."
design  art  architecture  suburbia  suburbs  urbanism  urban  exhibitions  cities 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Brand Avenue: Building a Better Big Box
"The Washington Post enlists the imaginations of several DC-area architects in envisioning the future of the "big box" retail spaces that we all know and loathe. What will happen when the anchor tenant moves on, goes under, or decides it needs an even bigger space? What about changing retail and transportation preferences?
via:adamgreenfield  architecture  design  neighborhoods  suburbs  bixbox  retail  gardening  urban  urbanism  parking  us 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Why Can't We Build an Affordable House?
"It is a vicious circle. Smaller houses on smaller lots are the logical solution to the problem of affordability, yet ­density—­and less affluent ­neighbors—­are precisely what most communities fear most. In the name of fighting sprawl, local zoning boards enact regulations that either require larger lots or restrict development, or both. These strategies decrease the ­supply—­hence, increase the ­cost—­of developable land. Since builders pass the cost of lots on to buyers, they justify the higher land prices by building larger and more expensive houses—McMansions. This produces more community resistance, and calls for yet more restrictive regulations. In the process, housing affordability becomes an even more distant ­chimera."
us  housing  homes  markets  economics  policy  zoning  law  politics  witoldrybczynski  affordability  suburbs  architecture 
october 2008 by robertogreco
What Is the Future of Suburbia? A Freakonomics Quorum - Freakonomics - Opinion - New York Times Blog
"Several months ago, we ran a quorum here about urbanization, pegged to the fact that more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. Given the economic changes of the past several months, particularly those in the housing market and in energy prices, it seemed like a good idea to run a new quorum on suburbia, even if it might cover some of the same ground. So we gathered up a group of smart people — James Kunstler, Thomas Antus, Jan Brueckner, Gary Gates, John Archer, Alan Berube, and Lawrence Levy — and asked them the following: What will U.S. suburbs look like in 40 years?"
suburbia  suburbs  future  us  urban  urbanism  demographics  housing  society  cities  planning  dystopia 
august 2008 by robertogreco
WorldChanging: The Outquisition
"What would it be like, we wondered, if folks who knew tools and innovation left the comfy bright green cities and traveled to the dead mall suburban slums, rustbelt browntowns and climate-smacked farm communities and started helping the locals get the to
alexsteffen  survival  survivalism  corydoctorow  distopia  future  leadership  innovation  collapse  society  classideas  cities  suburbs  crisis  peakoil  community  sustainability  environment  economics  worldchanging  planning  politics  freedom  food  local  futurism  green 
july 2008 by robertogreco
posturban transformation | varnelis.net - "Urbanism as a Way of Life, had traditionally been places of difference, places in which individuals from rural backgrounds were deterritorialized (to use Deleuzean terms) to become new, urban beings...
"...But something strange has happened over the last two decades...As the global city becomes increasingly homogeneous, today's advocates of the creative city may seem as backwards to us as Corbusier did to Jane Jacobs."
cities  suburbs  trends  urban  via:regine  creativeclass  suburbia  urbanism  demographics  janejacobs  kazysvarnelis 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Open the Future: The Suburban Question
"Gentrification, re-urbanization, even "black flight" to the suburbs upset conceptual models of built environment that remained dominant in US for last few decades. Cities are back... and suburbs may be abandoned to low-income.."
gentrification  cities  housing  green  redevelopment  suburbia  suburbs  urban  urbanism  living  future  sustainability  via:blackbeltjones 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Modern suburbia not just in America anymore - USATODAY.com
"For good or bad, the USA's suburbs have become a living laboratory for the world. Developing countries contending with explosive population growth and economic expansion are looking here for hints about how to manage growing cities."
design  globalization  housing  suburbia  suburbs  urban  urbanism  global  us  planning  trends 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Housing + Transportation : Center for Neighborhood Technology
"Planners, lenders, & most consumers traditionally measure housing affordability as 30 percent or less of income. [this index] takes into account not just cost of housing, but also intrinsic value of place, as quantified through transportation costs"
housing  realestate  sprawl  transit  transportation  travel  urban  urbanism  maps  mapping  money  community  visualization  costs  affordability  sustainability  demographics  urbanplanning  statistics  suburbs  calculator  economics  planning  geography  gis  data 
april 2008 by robertogreco
apophenia: musing about social networks and g/local cultures
"People are expected to be outraged that box stores are costing neighbors jobs, but what if you don't know your neighbors...local store [owners]? Lacking personal connection or liberal guilt, doesn't it make sense to save money instead of support local?"
community  localization  suburbia  suburbs  socialmedia  socialnetworking  trends  networks  local  activism  economics  groups  association 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Governing: Assessments/February 2008: The Walkability Revival
"Will more people who can afford suburban privacy be attracted to the noise and bustle of the urban street?"
walking  urbanism  transportation  sustainability  suburban  density  trends  change  cities  suburbs  urban 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Pruned: Hyperlocalizing Hydrology in the Post-Industrial Urban Landscape
"truly innovative stormwater management system...Portland, Oregon...“first of its kind anywhere,” Perry's project replaced city's combined storm/sewer pipe system with landscaped curb extension carved out of portion of street's parking zone"
portland  oregon  via:cityofsound  design  runoff  sustainability  landscape  infrastructure  engineering  green  suburbs  streets  urban  urbanism  water 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Infrastructure: How Would You Spend $1.6 Trillion?
"ARCHITECT asked a range of experts—architects, engineers, planners, nonprofit leaders, elected officials, and critics—how they'd fix America's infrastructure if they had the chance (and $1.6 trillion to spend). Click through the pages for their respo
architecture  engineering  infrastructure  suburbs  transportation  via:cityofsound  us 
february 2008 by robertogreco
The Next Slum?
"The subprime crisis is just the tip of the iceberg. Fundamental changes in American life may turn today’s McMansions into tomorrow’s tenements."
us  architecture  housingbubble  capitalism  bubble  housing  recession  slums  sociology  subprime  suburban  suburbia  suburbs  sustainability  theatlantic  economics  realestate  urbanism  walking  transportation  urban  mortgages  demographics  future  green  cities  crime  culture  planning  politics  poverty  property  dystopia  neighborhoods  collapse  environment 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Psychology Today: Teens: Suburban Blues
"Beyond a certain point, the researchers found, the pursuit of status and material wealth by high-earning families (say, $120,000 and above) tends to leave skid marks on the kids, but in ways you might not have expected."
parenting  psychology  children  teens  depression  health  wealth  us  suburbs  youth 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Wolf Lepenies: Banished to the banlieues - signandsight
"Paris' social sciences institutes have been ordered to move to the suburbs. To experience first-hand what they otherwise only talk about."
france  academia  socialscience  research  suburbs  place  experience  setting  studies  anthropology  society  sociology  via:cityofsound 
january 2008 by robertogreco
seven for 2007 | varnelis.net
"1. The Decline of the City, the Rise of the City 2. The End of Privacy 3. The Return of Big Computing 4. Systems not Sites 5. Goodbye, Bilbao 6. The Bust 7. The iPhone"
cities  trends  urban  urbanism  mobile  mobility  architecture  housingbubble  kazysvarnelis  suburbs  parkour  iphone  internet  network  future  forecasting  design  remkoolhaas  crisis 
january 2008 by robertogreco
WorldChanging: Tools, Models and Ideas for Building a Bright Green Future: Book Review: How to Build a Village
"The book offers solutions to the problems facing modern suburbs through the design and construction of a different type of living arrangement; a Village founded on improving quality of life."
books  design  community  environment  suburbs  human  scale  transportation  cities 
october 2007 by robertogreco
People Soup - Scotland Yard: subUrban Graffiti Project
"We present to you a beautiful blend of suburban intervention and lawn decor to the max. SCOTLAND YARD: subUrban Graffiti Project"
graffiti  streetart  suburbia  suburbs 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Kunstler on Peak Suburbia; Harpers Magazine on Detroit : TreeHugger
"serene conviction that we are at the end of the cycle -- and by that I mean the grand meta-cycle of the suburban project as a whole" "There is a wonderful article in the July issue of Harpers by Rebecca Solnit: Detroit Arcadia- Exploring the post-America
architecture  future  sustainability  cities  urban  farming  gardens  detroit  suburbs  suburbia  jameshowardkunstler  energy  cars  peakoil  oil  us  landscape  urbanprairie  agriculture 
june 2007 by robertogreco
Sex and the City, Pregnancy and the Suburb? | Planetizen
"If a correlation exists between birth rates and urbanization, does the post World War II baby boom owe its existence to urban sprawl?"
us  europe  demographics  sprawl  cities  population  urban  urbanism  suburbs  growth  history  design  planning 
may 2007 by robertogreco
Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | How to build intelligent suburbs
"The urgency of climate change makes the rebirth of our cities crucial to the planet, and its people"
urbanism  architecture  cities  urban  design  environment  space  politics  suburban  suburbs  sustainability  uk  criticism 
december 2006 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: The Invent-a-Micronation Contest...
"BLDGBLOG readers, now is your chance to shine: using 100 words or less, tell us what kind of micronation you would found – and where. Would it be an agricultural utopia, ruled by lottery, prone to war?"
micronations  contests  creative  imagination  glvo  design  architecture  books  geography  travel  suburbs 
november 2006 by robertogreco

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